Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/29/1967 to 6/4/1967

This was the final week of the 1966-1967 school year—and it was a full week for most students, since Rome City Schools didn’t observe Memorial Day as a holiday in the 1960s. The only exception were seniors, who finished up their final exams on Wednesday, May 31st, so that teachers could get exams graded and report cards finished in preparation for graduation. Seniors prepared for the baccalaureate service, which was held in the West Rome Gym, while the graduation ceremonies moved to the City Auditorium to provide extra room for attendees. For those students who needed an extra course or two, summer school was slated to begin on June 12th, which meant that those unlucky students had a one-week “summer vacation."

Now here’s a custom that should have continued: the Rome and Floyd County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Newcomers to Rome and Floyd County Rooster Boosters Breakfast at 7:45 on May 30th at the Aloha Restaurant. National City Bank hosted the breakfast, which was open to all newcomers to the area—parents and children as well—and absolutely free of charge. The breakfast consisted of country ham, red-eye gravy, eggs, grits, coffee, biscuits, water, and milk for kids. Cap Hicks and Milton S. McDonald spoke at the event, and various businesses had representatives on hand to introduce themselves to folks who were new to Rome.

Heavy thunderstorms came to Rome on Monday evening, May 29th, dumping hail on West Rome. The other side of town got it a lot worse, though: two homes in Lindale burned to the ground after begin struck by lightning, and Klopman Mills sustained lightning damage as well.

Floyd County Tax Commissioner Sarah Keown announced that 35,050 vehicle tags were issued in Floyd County (back in the 1960s, all car tags and taxes had to be paid by May 1st, rather than being spread out through the year), bringing in $528,674 in tax revenues and tag fees. 

Mrs. Ann Spears took leading academic honors as she graduated summa cum laude from Berry College on Saturday, June 3rd. So what does graduating from Berry College have to do with West Rome High School? Well, Mrs. Spears went on to become an outstanding English teacher at West Rome after her graduation before taking an administrative position in the Rome City Schools office. (Many of us were lucky enough to have class from Mrs. Spears during her Chieftain years, and I know that her skills as a teacher factored into my decision to teach English once I graduated from Berry.)

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, eggs for 29¢ a dozen, and Coca-Cola/Tab/Sprite for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had baking hens for a quarter a pound, Irvindale ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 58¢ a pound. A&P had smoked hams for 39¢ a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and German chocolate cakes for 65¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Chicken of the Sea tuna for a quarter a can, and strawberries for 32¢ a pint. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Nabisco vanilla wafers for 39¢ a box, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. 

The cinematic week began with For A Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Casino Royale (starring Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Eight on the Lam (starring Bob Hope & Phyllis Diller) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and A Man for All Seasons (with Paul Scofield) at the First Avenue, 

Everyone respected Aretha Franklin after her song “Respect” took the number one slot this week in 1967. Other top ten hits included “Groovin’” by the Young  Rascals (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas (#5); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & The Raiders (#6); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#7); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#8); “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane (#9); and “All I Need” by the Temptations (#10). 

David Bowie released his self-titled first album this week in 1967, but it  was all but overlooked in the musical supernova that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Considered by many to be The Beatles’ finest album (although I’d bestow that honor on Abbey Road), it changed rock music—and the Beatles—suddenly, the studio was an instrument in itself as rock took on more complexity and more sophistication.  (I have to confess that I was one of those who didn't "get it" the first time I heard the album; it was so different from anything the Beatles had done before that it struck me as pretentious and a bit self-indulgent. I grew to love the album, but it was not an instant hit for me--I guess my 13-year-old tastes weren't quite ready for it...)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/22/1967 to 5/28/1967

West Rome announced that 138 seniors would take part in graduation exercises on June 6th at the Rome City Auditorium. Atlanta television announcer Jerry Psenka was chosen to be graduation speaker (I remember Jerry Psenka--or at least his name--but had no idea that he was a speaker at any high school's graduation ceremonies).

The Rome Board of Education reviewed the findings of a special state study committee looking into the school system facilities. The study committee recommended a total overhaul of the elementary school facilities and a phaseout of neighborhood elementary schools in favor of fewer schools housing 500+ students in each school. The plan recommended, among other things, the merging of West End Elementary and Elm Street Elementary into one larger school. If all recommendations had been carried out, the cost would have been $2.5 million (that’s about $18 million in today’s dollars)Thankfully, all of these recommendations were not implemented; the board recognized the value of neighborhood/community elementary schools with smaller student populations and a faculty who knew almost almost all the students in their school.

Rome got almost 3” of rain on May 22nd, causing flooding on Paris Drive near the creek that overflowed into the backyards of homes on Conn Street. Fifteen auto accidents were reported due to the heavy rains, including a six-car accident on Shorter Avenue near Burnett Ferry Road. Fortunately, none of the accidents resulted in serious injuries.

Piggly Wiggly had whole fryers for a quarter a pound, cantaloupes for 33¢ each, and Sealtest ice cream for 59¢ a half-gallon (the first time ice cream was advertised over the 50¢ a half-gallon mark). Big Apple had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Southern Maid barbecue sauce for 29¢ a bottle, and Blue Bonnet margarine for 29¢ a pound. Kroger had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Kroger white bread for 17¢ a loaf. A&P had sirloin steak for 85¢ a pound, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for 15¢ a can, and whole watermelons for 89¢ each. Couch’s had chicken breast for 39¢ a pound, corn for 7¢ an ear, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit,

The cinematic week began with One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers & David Niven) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought For a Few Dollars More (with Clint Eastwood) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Casino Royale hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals took the number one slot this week with “Groovin’.” Other top ten hits included “Respect by Aretha Franklin (#2); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#3); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Englebert Humperdinck (#4); “The Happening” by the Supremes (#5); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#6); “Him Or Me—What’s It Gonna Be?” by Paul Revere & the Raiders (#7); “Creeque Alley” by the Mamas & the Papas (#8); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank Sinatra & Nancy Sinatra (#9); and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond (#10).

A comedy album cracked the top ten this week in 1967 as Bill Cosby’s Revenge climbed to the third slot, behind More of the Monkees by—well, you know—and I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You by Aretha Franklin. Cosby’s comedy was already very familiar to many of us—Revenge was his fifth album, after all—but his co-starring role in the television series I Spy had put him in the spotlight, creating an eager audience for a new helping of Cosby’s comedy. This album included the first mention of Cosby’s childhood friend Fat Albert and his signature phrase “Hey! Hey! Hey!"

And while their second album was still holding strong in the charts, the Monkees released their third album, Headquarters, this week in 1967. Other releases this week included the 5th Dimension’s debut album Up, Up, and Away and The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart, the last Supremes album before the group was renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Mom

Because I'm in the comic book business, not a week goes by without someone telling me a personal horror story about the incredible comic book collection they had before their mother threw it away.

It always makes me appreciate Mom, whose unwavering support and encouragement of my interest in comics shaped the direction of my life.

I remember childhood friends whose parents were unrelentingly critical of their interest in "funny books," asking them when they were going to outgrow that stuff and why they wasted time and money on such junk. But never, at any time in my life, did my parents denigrate my hobbies and interests. They were amazingly tolerant of my ever-growing collection, sometimes even catering to my whims even though it inconvenienced them. I still remember Mom and Dad venturing to Lee Street in southwest Atlanta in order to take me to Cantrell's Books, the first store in metro Atlanta to devote hundreds of square feet to back issues of comics. Lee Street was most decidedly not a great part of town, but that's where Cantrell's was, and that's where I begged my parents to take me. And they did--not just once, but several times, patiently waiting while I spent an hour or more digging through the comics trying to find the best bang for my very limited bucks.

Soon after I began spending money on back issue of comics from the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, Mom casually mentioned that she had read some comics in the 1950s, shortly after she and Dad got married. She didn't go out of her way to buy them, but friends of theirs had some comics lying around, and Mom read through a number of EC comics--she specifically remembered Haunt of Horror and Tales from the Crypt.  I was stunned. I had never envisioned my parents reading comics, but Mom actually remembered a few stories and told me about them. Years later, I would read those same stories in the Russ Cochran EC Library reprints--and they were just like Mom remembered them.

Not only did my parents support my interest in comics when I was a kid and a teenager, but they continued to encourage me after Susan and I got married. They let me store my collection in their storage room for many years, and never minded when I'd come up there and spend a few hours sorting through books, organizing the collection, and rereading some of my personal favorites.

When I bought Dr. No's in the 1980s, I jokingly asked Mom if she was glad I finally found a way to turn  my interest into comics into a profession. I remember her saying, "Ive always been happy that you're doing something you enjoy--that's all that matters."

Thanks, Mom. Every kid should have had a parent as supportive and encouraging as you were.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/15/1967 to 5/21/1967

Two Chieftains took first place in the annual Georgia State Physical Fitness Contest held in Atlanta on May 15th. Charles Murphy was the pushup champ with 88 pushups in two minutes, while Jerry Hill took first in setups with 86 in two minutes.

The West Rome band (along with the junior high band and the beginners band) held their spring concert on Sunday afternoon at the West Rome auditorium. The band was joined by guest conductor Roger Dancz, director of the University of Georgia band.

West Rome lost to Darlington 6-3 in the first round of the Floyd County Baseball Championship on Thursday, May 18th—and since it was a single-elimination tourney, that knocked them out of the running.

The Boys Club Choir performed two concerts at the City Auditorium on Thursday, ,May 18th, and Friday, May 19th. This was their first Rome concert since the choir was named Best Boys Club Choir in the Country in a national talent search. While they had performed in more than two dozen concerts around the country since then, they had not performed n their home town for almost three years.

Piggly Wiggly had round steak for 79¢ a pound, sweet potatoes for 15¢ a pound, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case plus deposit. Big Apple had run roast for 79¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 25¢ a jar, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Dixie Crystals sugar for 37¢ for a five-pound bag, and Pillsbury biscuits for a dime a can. A&P had chicken breasts for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell house coffee for 69¢ a can, and cabbage for a nickel a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and white corn for 6¢ an ear.

The cinematic week began with Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) at the DeSoto Theatre, Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgraves) at the First Avenue, and Endless Summer (“with an all-surfing cast!”) at the West Rome Drive-In.The midweek switch out brought One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch, who changed our view of prehistoric human beings forever) to the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In and the zany James-Bond-but-not-the-James-Bond-you-were-expecting film Casino Royale (with Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and many more) to the First Avenue.

The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’” took the number one slot this week in 196. Other top ten hits included “The Happening” by the Supremes (#2); “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley (#3); “Somethin’ Stupid” by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra (#4); “Respect” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#6); “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” by Engelbert Humperdinck (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “Don’t You Care” by the Buckinghams (#9); and “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#10)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/8/1967 to 5/14/1967

The Chieftains won 4-0 against Cass on Tuesday, May 9th, thanks in large part to pitcher Steve Harwell’s three-hitter. Then, on Wednesday, West Rome defeated Chattooga 7-2, led by the pitching of Charlie Williams. The twin victories pushed West Rome’s overall season record to 11-7.

The Rome Board of Education approved $17,000 for a summer reading program to be held at Elm Street Elementary to assist economically deprived students. The program was designed to run from8:30am until 2:30pm June 19th through July 28th; participating students would receive a free lunch and free transportation to Elm Street from each student’s local elementary school. .

The board also voted to raise tuition for out-of-system students from its old rate of $25 per month to a new rate of $35 per month. (This is the cost that any student living in in Floyd County outside the city limits would have to pay to attend a city school.)

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons almost performed in Rome this week in 1967, but Valli’s illness and hospitalization forced the group to cancel their scheduled appearance. So instead of spending a weekend in Rome, Valli got to spend his weekend in a hospital bed in Detroit, Michigan.

Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle have been four-lane roads between Shorter Avenue and Alabama Road for so long that I almost forgot that there was a time when they weren’t—but fifty years ago, they were just two lanes. This week in 1967, though, the plans for widening the roads were submitted to the state and federal highway authorities for approval, and local officials said that they could finish the entire four-lane widening by late 1967 or early 1968. Why such a rush? Well, it had a lot to do with the scheduled opening of Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School. The developers had asked the city to four-lane Redmond Circle in front of the shopping center, while Trend Mills and General Electric had asked that Lavender Drive be widened, so the city combined them into one fast-tracked project.

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound (people must have eaten a lot more beef liver in the 1960s than they do now—not a week went by that someone wasn’t advertising beef liver), cantaloupes for 33¢ each and corn for 7¢ an ear. Big Apple had round steak for 77¢ a pound, Sealtest ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and iceberg lettuce for a quarter a head. Kroger had chuck roast for 49¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, Tetley tea bags for 89¢ a box, and five pounds of White Lily flour for 59¢. Couch’s had fresh whole fryers for 23¢ a pound, small eggs for 20¢ a dozen, and Blue Plate grape jelly for a quarter a jar.  

The cinematic week began with Hombre (with Paul Newman) at both the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Blow Up (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Bullwhip Griffin (with Roddy McDowell) to the DeSoto Theatre and Women of Straw (with Sean Connery & Gina Lollobrigida) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Blow Up hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

The Supremes took the number one slot this week with “The Happening,” knocking Frank & Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” to third place. Other top ten hits included “Sweet Soul Music’ by Arthur Conley (#2), “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals (#4); “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” by the Monkees (#5); “Don’t You Care” by The Buckinghams (#6); “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five (#7); “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches & Herb (#8); “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#9); and “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells (#10). 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience released their debut album, Are You Experienced, this week in 1967; this was the same week that Country Joe and the Fish released their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body. One album sold significantly better than the other, although both were considered influential in the psychedelic rock movement.